12 Types of Engineering Degrees (And Tips for Choosing One)

Updated February 2, 2023

Engineering is a broad field with a variety of niches. When pursuing a career in engineering, it's essential to specialize in a field that matches your interests and career goals. Learning about the various engineering degrees you can choose enables you to make an informed decision about which career path to take and how to meet job requirements. In this article, we list the different types of engineering degrees you can obtain and provide tips for making the right choice for a rewarding career.

Types of engineering degrees

To pursue a career in engineering, it’s necessary to attain specific academic qualifications. There are various types of engineering degrees, and these differ in both their academic focus and their professional outcomes. Engineering programs often include courses in mathematics, physical sciences, technology, and engineering. An engineering degree provides students with the knowledge and technical skills to excel in the engineering career of their choice.

Entry-level positions in engineering typically require three to four years of study in a higher institution of learning or a bachelor's degree in their chosen discipline. For senior roles, a relevant master's or doctoral degree may be a requirement. A master's degree typically takes two years to complete, while a doctorate program can last seven years. Here are some degrees you can consider for an engineering career:

1. Aerospace engineering

An aerospace engineering degree program provides students with knowledge in the design, testing, production, maintenance, and operation of aircraft, spacecraft, and other aircraft-related systems. Its curriculum typically includes courses on aerodynamics, propulsion, flight mechanics, systems engineering, and avionics. Common employers of aerospace engineers are government agencies, the military, and private companies that design and manufacture aircraft.

Read more: What Are Aerospace Engineer Requirements? (With Skills)

2. Mechanical engineering

This is a broad field. A degree in mechanical engineering enables future engineers to design mechanical systems that drive the operations of many industries, including automotive, energy production, and manufacturing. Mechanical engineering courses may include topics in kinematics and dynamics, thermodynamics, mechanical design, engineering materials, and fluid mechanics. Graduates with a mechanical engineering degree can pursue a career in research, product development, and the operation and maintenance of mechanical systems. Obtaining this degree makes you highly diversified to fit into almost any industry.

Related: Mechanical vs. Civil Engineering: Definitions and FAQs

3. Biomedical engineering

Obtaining a biomedical engineering degree primarily entails studying the principles of engineering, biology, and medicine. Biomedical engineers use their knowledge to develop medical devices, equipment, and computer systems. Graduates from this degree can use their technical skills in a variety of sectors that focus on health care and medicine, including research, biotechnology, and medical device manufacturing. They can also work in the pharmaceutical industry.

Related: How to Write a Biomedical Engineering Resume (With Example)

4. Automotive engineering

Enrolling in an automotive engineering degree program enables you to gain knowledge about the design and production of vehicles, automotive systems, and powertrains. The diverse nature of the automotive industry allows engineers to work on various teams, such as electrical engineering, mechanical design, and performance and systems management. Graduates with this degree can also pursue careers in research and development, manufacturing and logistics, and sales.

5. Biomechanical engineering

Biomechanical engineers study the application of mechanical principles to biological systems, such as the human body. They combine their knowledge of engineering with that of biology and physics to develop solutions to problems in the biomedical field. These solutions include the development of medical devices, prostheses, and robotic systems. Biomechanical engineers can also pursue research in biomechanics, which is the study of how muscles, bones, and other body tissues interact with each other.

6. Civil engineering

Being a civil engineer requires studying how to design, construct, and maintain physical structures, such as bridges, buildings, and roads. Courses in transportation engineering, soil mechanics, water resources engineering, structures, and construction management are often part of a civil engineering degree. Graduates can enter various fields, including construction and infrastructure management, consulting, and public works. Civil engineers can further specialize in any of the following fields for an advanced degree:

  • geotechnical engineering

  • construction engineering

  • structural engineering

  • transportation engineering

  • mining engineering

Related: What Are the Qualifications for Civil Engineering?

7. Architectural engineering

An architectural engineering degree prepares you for a career in building design and construction. During projects, you may work with plumbers and other technicians to design draining, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, and fire protection systems. You may also develop plans for the construction of structures and supervise the building process. This degree allows you to pursue a career as an architect, a building engineer, or a construction manager.

Related: Difference Between an Architectural Engineer vs. Architect

8. Computer engineering

Studying computer engineering provides you with knowledge of software development, computer architecture, and circuit design. You can use this degree to secure a job in the technology industry developing, designing, and maintaining computer system components. Graduates of this degree often work as computer programmers or analysts or in fields such as software engineering, project management, or information security. You can also find employment in various other industries, including finance, health care, and education.

Related: How to Start a Computer Engineering Career in 5 Steps

9. Electrical engineering

Electrical engineering students focus on the development, design, and maintenance of electrical systems. This degree program covers topics such as circuit theory, digital systems, and telecommunications. Graduates of an electrical engineering degree program can pursue a career in the power industry and renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar energy. They may also take on roles that specialize in the design of electrical components, the operation of control systems, or the manufacturing of electronic equipment.

Related: Best Jobs for an Electrical Engineering Degree (With Salaries)

10. Environmental engineering

An environmental engineering curriculum includes material on biology, geology, and chemistry. Students apply their knowledge in these subjects to solve environmental issues, such as air, water, and land pollution. This requires conducting research that highlights the effects of economic activities on the environment and promoting sustainable practices that create sources of clean energy. Environmental engineers may work in both the public and private sectors and can specialize in areas such as environmental compliance, hazardous waste management, and environmental sustainability.

11. Agricultural engineering

Agricultural engineers focus on advancing agricultural practices and processes, such as irrigation, cultivation, and harvesting. They strive to improve animal husbandry, water management, and food processing. They're also responsible for developing new technology and methods that are more efficient and sustainable. With an agricultural engineering degree, graduates can pursue a career in government agencies dedicated to agricultural research and development or in companies focused on the food industry.

12. Mining engineering

Mining engineers are responsible for the safe and efficient extraction of mineral resources from the Earth. They use their knowledge of geology, mathematics, engineering, and physics to plan and design underground and surface mining operations. Students of this degree program gain the skills necessary to analyze and interpret data related to ore reserves, mine designs, and safety regulations. Graduates can pursue a career in various organizations, such as oil and gas companies, mineral exploration companies, and environmental consultancies.

Related: 14 Best Careers in Mining to Consider (With Job Search Tips)

Tips for selecting an engineering degree to pursue

With so many fields of engineering to choose from, it can be a challenge to select the right program to pursue. Consider your interests, aptitude, and career goals before deciding on an engineering degree. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:

Examine your skills and interests

Doing this makes it easier to identify which engineering path is most suitable for you. It requires determining which topics you're passionate about or pique your interest and which subjects you find easy to learn and understand. For example, if you're proficient in mathematics and physics, computer or electrical engineering could be a great fit. It's also important to evaluate the skills you possess and use them to identify the best engineering field for you. For example, if you're creative and enjoy drawing structures, structural engineering may be a great option.

Research the fields you're considering

Researching the career options available for the engineering fields that interest you can help you make more informed career decisions. Find out what the job market looks like and the salary range of the jobs you're interested in pursuing. Take note of the qualifications, skills, and responsibilities for each profession.

Related: What Can You Do with an Engineering Degree? (With Salaries)

Ask for advice from experts

You can also reach out to individuals who work in the engineering field you're interested in to learn more about it. These experts can provide invaluable advice, such as which courses to take, the job prospects of the chosen field, and the best strategy to improve your chances of employment. They can also connect you with other engineers and professionals in the industry and help you find internships. With their help, you can confidently choose the best engineering degree to pursue.

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